For Fans Of
Reviewing a split CD is a hard task. With two bands to take into account, there’s always the risk that if one of them is terrible, the better band will automatically have points deducted at no fault of their own. It sucks, and it’s exactly what has happened here.
The split opens with the crushing intro riff to Unconsciousness by Virginia’s Get A Grip, kicking into a choppy drum beat that makes it obvious these guys are huge fans of the mid nineties New York hardcore sound. So far so good. Then come the vocals. Christ. Out of time and monotonous, with the most contrived attempt at sounding thug since K-Fed dropped, the song instantly becomes borderline unlistenable. Track after vacant track, stock standard lyrics about concrete jungles and fucking shit up are droned over a backdrop of punishing guitars and solid, kick-heavy drumming that had potential to really pound. Instead, I found myself happy to be hearing the final notes of With Knowledge, heralding the end of Get A Grip’s half of the disc, and eleven forgettable minutes of my life.
Enter Pennsylvanian quintet Hammer Head. Unsurprisingly, at this point my hopes for these guys aren’t too high, but when the brooding bass line of Fed Up detonates into an outburst of stomp-your-face-off mosh, my opinion changes violently.
Although only young, they write and play music with a confidence that can only come from a great deal of heart. Mid paced for the most part, the songs have a force that explodes through every facet of the music to create a true sense of power and energy, even taking the time on Gang Mentality and It Goes Like This to crank out a slow, sleazy rock out solo. Little touches like that help to change things up and keep the music interesting, but it’s the vocals that really seal the deal. Snarling and furious, they sit perfectly and work to create a sound that leaves an image in your head of what a shitstorm it must be when this band plays live.
Don’t get me wrong, Hammer Head are not without their faults- at times falling into the old trap of overly long ringouts which detract from the strength of some songs, and a muddy sound quality only a few notches above demo standards, but nothing that won’t be ironed out with a little more experience. This is definitely a band worth keeping an eye out for. It’s just a shame I can’t rate this release on Hammer Head’s contribution alone.
A solid effort from Hammer Head, but probably worth holding out for a solo release. Get A Grip are really boring.
Get A Grip
2. Somewhere Along The Way
3. The Redeemer
5. With Knowledge
6. Fed Up